Bible Gateway

Monday, April 07, 2008


This week, I've posted a review of Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell over at a blog I share with my critique partners, . Go over and check it out.

In keeping with this theme, I decided to write down 20 of the most common plot patterns for fiction. If you'd like to read along, I'm taking my information directly from the book, 20 Master Plots (and How to Build Them) by Ronald B. Tobias.

Plot Pattern #1- The Quest
A quest plot should be about a search for a person, place, or thing; develop a close parallel between your protagonist's intent and motivation and the object he's trying to find.

Plot Pattern #2- The Adventure
The focus of your story should be on the journey more than on the person making the journey.

Plot Pattern #3- The Pursuit
In the pursuit plot, the chase is more important than the people who take part in it.

Plot Pattern #4- The Rescue
The rescue plot relies more on action than on the development of characterization.

Pattern #5- The Escape
Escape is always literal. Your hero should be confined against his will (often unjustly) and wants to escape.

Plot Pattern #6- Revenge
Your protagonist seeks retaliation against the antagonist for a real or imagined injury.

Plot Pattern #7- The Riddle
The core of your riddle should be cleverness; hiding that which is in plain sight.

Pattern #8- Rivalry
The source of your conflict should come as a result of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object.

Plot Pattern #9- The Underdog
The underdog plot is similar to the rivalry plot except that the protagonist is not matched equally against the antagonist. The antagonist, which may be a person, place or thing, clearly has much greater power than the protagonist.

Plot Pattern #10- Temptation
The temptation plot is a character plot. It examines the motives, needs, and impulses of human character.

Plot Pattern #11- Metamorphosis
The metamorphosis is usually the result of a curse.

Plot Pattern #12- Transformation
The plot of transformation should deal with the process of change as the protagonist journeys through one of the many stages of life.

Plot Pattern #13- Maturation
Create a protagonist who is on the cusp of adulthood, whose goals are either confused or not yet clarified.

Plot Pattern #14- Love
The prospect of love should always be met with a major obstacle. Your characters may want it, but they can't have it for any variety of reasons. At least not right away.

Pattern #15- Forbidden Love
Forbidden love is any love that goes against the conventions of society, so there is usually either an explicit or implicit force exerted against the lovers.

Plot Pattern #16- Sacrifice
The sacrifice should come at a great personal cost; your protagonist is playing for high stakes, either physical or mental.

Plot Pattern #17- Discovery
Remember that the discovery plot is more about the character making the discovery than the discovery itself. Focus your story on the character, not on what the character does.

Plot Pattern #18- Wretched Excess
Wretched excess is generally about the psychological decline of a character.

Pattern #19- #20- Ascension & Descension
At the heart of your story should be a moral dilemma. This dilemma tests the character of your protagonist/antagonist, and it is the foundation for the catalyst of change in her character. Character and events are closely related to each other. Show your character progressing through successive changes as a result of events. If your story is about the fall of a character, make certain the reasons for her fall are a result of character and not gratuitous circumstances. Always focus on your main character. Relate all events and characters to your main character. Show us the character before, during, and after the change.

The author expounds on each one of these plot patterns and helps the burgeoning author relate each variation to their work in progress. At the end of each chapter, he list a checklist for the writer to know if he is on track with that particular plot pattern.

Also, know that you can combine each plot pattern to make it uniquely your own.

1 comment:

Janet K Brown said...

Good thoughts on possible plots. Need to keep that in mind when starting something new or even when stumped during that "sagging middle." Thanks, Deb, Good blog site.

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